Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mommy Said No

Lina (pre-meltdown)
We were told they would come. We were told they were inevitable and absolutely impossible to avoid. We were told they would be bad. I’m talking of course about the Terrible Two’s. Or in other words, the insane tantrums that only a toddler is capable of throwing. Up to this point we’ve been spared, even lulled into the subtle reassurance that our kid would not be like all the others. Sure, Lina’s had a few freakouts here and there over the past few months. But even still, they were few and far between, and I had always found a way of attributing them to a specific reason or ailment that could explain away the entire incident. “What? Lina threw her crayons across the room in a screaming fit? That doesn’t sound like her, she must be exhausted.”

Like a boat slowly taking on water, I’ve gotten good at quickly scooping up the mess, then tossing it overboard before it ever has the chance of becoming a real problem. But lately these little outbursts (or mini-meltdowns, as I like to call them) are making their presence more known, overwhelming me faster than I can dismiss them. Example? Today I had to literally pick my 22-month-old up off the floor of Barnes & Noble and force her into her stroller for the walk home. Like trying to tie up a lunatic in a straightjacket, I clumsily fumbled with the straps until she finally gave up, slumping into her stroller in defeat. Of course this wasn’t the end of it. She screamed emphatically the entire time as red-faced Mommy tried to avoid the looks of irritation I was getting from the bookstore’s other patrons (which, by the way, don’t even get me started on. I’m convinced these are the same people giving nasty looks to the poor woman whose kid decides to lose it while flying coach. I promise that the exaggerated huffs and puffs of strangers will do nothing to resolve the tantrum any quicker).

I think it’s safe to say that we are indeed approaching these Terrible Two’s everybody’s been talking about. Lately I feel like even uttering the word “no” is enough to turn my darling Lina into a little tornado of screams and tears. No, you cannot eat ice cream cake for breakfast. No, you cannot sleep in the dog’s crate. No, we cannot cross Queens Blvd. without you being in your stroller, which was today’s trigger. This news was enough to send Leenie over the edge, going all spaghetti-legs on me (you know that maneuver where your toddler goes totally limp mid-freakout, making it impossible to pick them up).

Lina’s crying continued for the whole walk home, then overflowed onto the elevator in our building. I shifted back and forth on pins and needles as different neighbors boarded the elevator with us as Lina asserted, “No stroller! Lina walk!” My only solace was Giada, who was oblivious to the entire thing (thank God. If she had joined in on the screaming, I would have lost it). Instead she sat giggling in the front seat of the stroller, farting audibly and keeping herself entertained.

Then something incredible happened. Just as I was about to break down into tears myself, Lina peeked her head out from behind her sister, initiating an impromptu game of peek-a-boo. After the second or third “I see you,” she was laughing and said, “Mommy so pretty. Lina loves Mommy.” Where had that come from? That’s the funny thing about toddlers, they can just as quickly overwhelm you with love as they can with frustration, leading me to believe that we’ll navigate through these Terrible Two’s just fine.

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